If you were asked what the heavyweights were in nutrition, you would probably say vitamin C, calcium or maybe vitamin D. However, there's another essential nutrient you need to be on the lookout for when planning your meals for the week or shopping for a multivitamin: vitamin K.
A fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin K is found within the liver as well as the fat throughout the body. There are three forms of vitamin K -- K1, K2 and K3 -- which have subtypes as well. While vitamin K may not be the vitamin you've heard the most about, it's starting to get some serious attention for its many health benefits, in spite of its small daily dose.
Main Health Benefits of Vitamin K
Although vitamin K plays a role in many bodily functions, doctors recommend getting enough vitamin K for two main health reasons. First of all, vitamin K is needed by the body to help blood clot properly. Without it, you're more likely to bruise and experience uncontrolled bleeding, either from injury or surgery.
The second reason is your body also needs vitamin K to properly absorb and utilize the mineral calcium to keep bones strong. Without enough vitamin K, you're more susceptible to osteoporosis, caused by declining bone density. Having low bone density can lead to fractures and breaks. This is especially important for post-menopausal women.
Other Uses for Vitamin K
Babies, especially in the womb and right after birth, are more susceptible to vitamin K deficiency, since their digestive systems aren't well developed. Vitamin K is also produced by bacteria that live within the digestive system, and since babies aren't born with the correct bacteria within their gut, they may not have enough vitamin K.
Second, if you experience redness of the skin or a mild skin irritation, like a sunburn, topical products containing vitamin K may be helpful in reducing irritation, inflammation and other symptoms.
Lastly, vitamin K is also currently being researched for possible tumor growth-inhibiting properties. However, these studies are still in their early stages and vitamin K hasn't been found to be an effective cancer treatment at this time.
Adding More Vitamin K to Your Diet
The average recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adult men and women is 90 mcg per day. While deficiencies aren't common, eating a unhealthy diet, digestive issues resulting in poor nutrient absorption or taking certain medications can lead to a deficiency in vitamin K. Your doctor can determine if you're deficient in vitamin K and help you determine how much you need daily for health.
To make sure you're getting enough vitamin K, you should start with your diet. Vitamin K can be found in green, leafy vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard and kale, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, fish and eggs. If you still need more vitamin K, or aren't able to get enough of these foods into your diet, you can try a vitamin K supplement. The most common form of vitamin K used in supplements is K2, which also has subtypes, MK-7 and MK-4, which is easily absorbed and utilized by the body. You can also take a chlorophyll supplement.
Anyone with a diagnosed medical condition, especially those taking blood thinners, antibiotics or cholesterol-lowering mediations, should consult their doctor before adding vitamin K in supplement form to prevent potential interactions. Pregnant women are also encouraged to speak with their doctor before adding more vitamin K.
Making sure you're getting enough vitamin K with a supplement from eVitamins. Have a great week!